Jelly Shots

In 1862 Jerry Thomas, in what is widely considered to be the world’s first cocktail guide, “How to Mix Drinks”, wrote, ‘Many persons, particularly of the softer sex, have been tempted to partake so plentifully of it as to render them somewhat unfit for waltzing or quadrilling after supper.’

And the seemingly-innocent but lethal beverage of which he writes? None other than today’s much-maligned Jelly Shot.

Basic Jelly Shot recipe
  • 20g gelatine
  • 80ml hot water
  • 30ml cold water
  • 50ml cold alcohol

Add hot water to the gelatine and stir until dissolved. Mix in the cold water then add the alcohol of choice. Depending on your choice of alcohol, you may want to add a little food colouring e.g. if you use vodka, you may decide to colour it blue. Divide between 6 shot glasses and refrigerate.

Margarita Jelly Shot
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • ¾ oz granulated sugar dissolved in 1½ oz water
  • 1¼ oz gelatine
  • 3 oz tequila
  • 2 oz Cointreau
  • Food colouring if desired

Mix the lime juice with the sugar solution and sprinkle the gelatine on top in a small saucepan. Allow it to stand for a few minutes and then heat gently, stirring, until the gelatine dissolves. Add the tequila and Cointreau and some food colouring if desired. Divide between shot glasses and leave in the refrigerator to set.

Tequila Jelly Shot
  • 1 square lime jelly
  • 100ml hot water
  • Juice of 2 large limes
  • 200ml tequila

Dissolve the jelly square in the water. Add the lime juice and the tequila. Mix well. Divide between 8 shot glasses and refrigerate until set.

Lemon Drops
  • 1 packet lemon jelly
  • 16 oz hot water
  • 8 oz cold water
  • 8 oz vodka

Dissolve the jelly in hot water. Stir in the cold water and then the vodka. Divide between shot glasses and refrigerate. When set, damp the rims of the glasses and dip in caster sugar for a frosted edge.

Fussy Navel Jelly Shots
  • 1 packet peach jelly
  • 16 oz boiling water
  • 6 oz cold water
  • 6 oz peach schnapps

Dissolve the jelly in hot water. Stir in the cold water and then the peach schnapps. Divide between shot glasses and refrigerate.

  • Alcohol served in this way is absorbed more slowly. Even practised drinkers will underestimate how much they’ve drunk so you might want to use more water and less alcohol if you’re serving lots of jelly shots.
  • Leave the shot glasses out of the fridge for a while before serving to allow them to melt slightly, so they slip easily out of the glass.
  • Use paper cups: it makes it easier for your guests to get the shot out.
  • Cut oranges in half and scoop out the flesh. Fill with the jelly mixture and leave to set. Cut into quarters to serve.
  • You can make jello shots with almost any type of alcohol, but you need to adjust the proportions of alcohol and cold water to ensure that the shot still sets. The higher the proof of the alcohol, the more water that is required for it to set.
  • Letting the warm mixture cool for 5 minutes before adding the cold water will help stop the alcohol evaporating.
  • Make sure the alcohol is very cold before stirring it in.
  • According to one legend, Tom Lehrer, the American satirist, invented the vodka jelly shot when working for America’s security agency in the 1950s, as a way of getting round the restriction on alcohol on the premises.

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